Written by Kelly Stincer.
Farmers face a lot of unpredictability, and that uncertainty can be costly. Not only do they depend on Mother Nature for their success, they also have to manage fuel costs for their equipment and determine how to maximize their land for ideal crop yield. That can be a challenge when you have a fleet of tractors, thousands of acres of land and a short yearly planning period.
Columbus, Ohio’s, CropZilla Software helps busy farmers looking to maximize their profit. CropZilla allows farmers to quickly and easily develop a comprehensive farm master plan on a field-by-field basis for the upcoming growing season. The software is a strategic planning tool for decision-support that ties together a production model of the farm with a financial model.
“By improving your operational efficiencies on a farm, you can grow financially,” said Dale Jefferson, president and COO of CropZilla. “Our software can make your farm more profitable than ever.”
CropZilla allows farmers to quickly plan for the upcoming planting season with software that projects different ways a farmer can use his or her existing equipment and land to optimize efficiencies. Projections are based on standard farming practices, but CropZilla also helps farmers develop unique, personalized treatments for their individual fields or farm, such as how adding equipment or labor would affect their profits and exploring the cost-effectiveness of various farming practices. Once complete, farmers end up with a list of all the supplies they need to purchase for the year, plans for the use of each piece of equipment and a summary of labor required to complete the work.
“Our farmers can test multiple scenarios in CropZilla at once, so they can see the operational and financial impact of making significant changes or just minor tweaks to their growing plan,” said Jefferson. “This helps them decide if it’s worth purchasing that new tractor, hire new help or rent additional acres.”
Jefferson met his co-founder, Brian Watkins, while they were both working on their MBAs at The Ohio State University. Watkins has been a partner at Watkins Farms for over 30 years, farming nearly 8,000 acres of corn, soy and wheat in central Ohio. He was facing some challenges maximizing the farm’s profits, and the two decided to start a company that would combine farming and big data to create predictive analytics for farms like Watkins’.
“It’s important to have someone on your team that fully understands the market you’re in, so for us that’s Brian,” said Jefferson. “We’ve built the entire business around what would help him solve his financial challenges with the farm. By having that core competency in-house, we were able to start selling before we even had the product.”
CropZilla’s offices are located within Rev1 Ventures, a central Ohio partner of Ohio Third Frontier. The company has raised angel funding, and is now focused on raising a larger round to increase the company sales team and expand its marketing efforts.
CropZilla has customers throughout the Midwest, as far west as California, and internationally in Canada and a test farm in Italy.
“As we set our sights on these expansion goals, it’s important to highlight how beneficial being located in Ohio has been for CropZilla,” said Jefferson. “We have easy access to a majority of our current customers and are surrounded by potential future customers. You couldn’t ask for a better place to start an agriculture-based technology company.”